Big burgers and fried Twinkies make this
Mary not so contrary.
The concept of a gay hamburger chain? Fabulous. Something as butch as hamburgers should help dispel all those nasty stereotypes about gay men, right? Except that one about gay guys liking kitsch, which is the theme of this colorful room’s decor. And the one about gay guys loving old, campy films, like the ones shown on the walls.
Okay, so maybe Mary isn’t starting a revolution. But girl can work a deep fryer like nobody’s business. “Mary’s Handbag” is a gold mine of fried foods, such as the jalapeño poppers (bursting with cream cheese), Asiago-stuffed olives and fat, crispy onion rings. Burgers are a little disappointing to look at—the uniformity of the patties suggests that they aren’t hand-formed to order. But they arrive on fluffy brioche buns (from Gonnella Bakery) and the toppings are obscenely decadent. “Buffy the Hamburger Slayer” exhibits big flavors of red wine and aioli while the “Barbra-Q Bacon Cheeseburger” is layered with barbecue sauce, bacon and those onion rings, making it impossible to hold and yet impossible to put down.
As if fried food and red meat weren’t enough, Mary ends things with ice cream sundaes and deep-fried Twinkies. The doughnutlike cakes are just the push your heart needs to go into cardiac arrest, but if there’s anything Mary understands, it’s that, sometimes, a girl’s just got to indulge.—David Tamarkin
5400 N Clark St at Balmoral Ave (773-784-6969). El: Red to Berwyn. Bus: 22 (24 hrs), 50, 92. Lunch, dinner. Average main course: $10.